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Chaalchitra Ekhon review: Anjan Dutt strums his old guitar in his honest ode to his mentor, Mrinal Sen

Young actor Shaon Chakraborty shines as Anjan Dutt puts a brave foot forward with his production, Chaalchitra Ekhon

Chaalchitra Ekhon review: Anjan Dutt strums his old guitar in his honest ode to his mentor, Mrinal Sen
Sawon Chaklraborty and Anjan Dutt in Chaalchitra Ekhon

Last Updated: 06.21 PM, May 10, 2024


Chaalchitra Ekhon story: 

Angry young man Ranjan Dutt has no idea how to put his future life together. He is passionate about theatre but his radical productions are put to stop by the authorities. He has a major fallout with his theatre group members. He dislikes Calcutta for its ‘intellectual’ limitations. He hates communists and ranks individual liberty above collective endeavour. He wants to go to Berlin to become an apprentice of theatre but he has a wife and son. Amid this excruciating inner conflict in his mind, Ranjan meets Kunal Sen – a maverick filmmaker, a Marxist, and an eminent intellectual and he soothes his anguishes. In a nutshell, the film is a collage of Anjan Dutt’s real-life introduction to the world of Mrinal Sen in the early ’80s through their first film together, Chaalchitra (The Kaleidoscope).


Chaalchitra Ekhon review: 

For Anjan Dutt, Chaalchitra Ekhon is deeply personal. Those who interviewed the man extensively or even read some of his interviews will know that Chaalchitra Ekhon is Anjan’s honest attempt to capture the moment he spent with Mrinal Sen. Meanwhile, those who are completely unaware of his interviews will simply enjoy this one for it is a well-made, honest and entertaining film.

Anjan has an army of fans who idolise him as a filmmaker and yet his recent films and web series received no more than lukewarm responses even from his fans. The man who once floored his audience with The Bong Connection, Madly Bangali, and Chalo Let’s Go was often termed as the ‘man who lost his mojo’. And then Anjan presents a slice of his memory on a delectable platter garnished with music of his style in Chaalchitra Ekhon. This explains a lot about the enigmatic man that Anjan is.

Mrinal and Anjan became accidental friends of two different generations. The film, like a memoir, captures how the presence of Mrinal Sen – as an individual and an institution – impacted Anjan- in his choices, worldview, and understanding of Calcutta.

Ranjan grows up in a cosmopolitan environment. He is deeply influenced by Sartre, Peter Weiss, and Brecht. He feels the intellectual depth of Calcutta is miserably limited. Ranjan’s anger, frustration, and helplessness are real. When his friends identify him as a ‘hypocrite’ he refuses to dismiss it as a mere scuffle and starts pondering upon it. It changes him. As he gears up to shift to Berlin, he meets Kunal Sen and Ranjan’s world of perception receives a pleasant shock. His dilemma, restlessness, and conflicts are strangely comforted by the presence of Kunal, his wife Geeta Sen (beautifully portrayed by Bidipta Chakraborty), his production manager, Bipul (Subhashish Mukherjee), cinematographer Madhavan (Supravat Das) and others. Ranjan enters into an ecosystem of empathy, humanity, and care. Ranjan stays back in Kolkata.

Sawan plays the character of Ranjan, aka Anjan immaculately. His care for details, honesty in adapting to the mannerisms of a stalwart actor like Anjan Dutt, and spontaneity are commendable. Sawan does a fabulous job. Anjan effortlessly portrays a man he saw from proximity. Mrinal Sen gave him access to his universe and Anjan treasured it with care and nurtured it all his life to play this character one day. He is fabulous.

The music, especially the songs, brings the old vibe of Anjan Dutt. Neel has successfully evoked every bit of nostalgia of an Anjan Dutt fan. While the film represents the 80s Calcutta, the present-day filming doesn’t seem to jar. One of the major problems of the film is that it has a pitifully limited representation of women. Ranjan's wife Nanda and Kunal Sen's wife have the potential to be expanded a little more but they are just the missed opportunity and received no more than lip service from the maker.

Chaalchitra Ekhon verdict:

It is a must-watch. It is a tribute to Mrinal Sen by a man who knew the legend personally, and who was influenced and loved by this iconic filmmaker. Chaalchitra Ekhon is a glimpse of their introduction and it is delightful to watch these two men’s unputdownable bromance.


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